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Skidmore College

A gold medal for the Skidmore community

January 17, 2024
by Tory Abbott

Skidmore’s award-winning Dining Services team has taken home gold in the 10th annual American Culinary Federation (ACF) Conference and Competition, marking Skidmore’s eighth gold medal at the event

Nine teams from six different states participated in the “Chopped”-style competition held on Jan. 12 in Skidmore’s Murray-Aikins Dining Hall.  

The Professional Chefs of New Hampshire, The University of Massachusetts, and Skidmore’s team all received gold medals. Other competitors were Princeton University, Middlebury College, Rochester Institute of Technology, State University of New York Geneseo, Cornell University, and Wee Burn Country Club.  

Skidmore’s talented Dining Services team has achieved wide recognition, including a No. 5 ranking for Best College Food in New York in 2024 from Niche.com based on meal plan costs and student reviews.  

“I’m proud of our Skidmore team and this achievement. But it’s not just about winning — I'm proud of the work that we do and meals we serve every day to our students,” said Director of Dining Services Mark Miller. “I think all the chefs that traveled to Skidmore for this experience are going to walk away with a really positive impression of the College and our community here.” 

As part of the competition, chefs were required to prepare a three-course menu and buffet platter by utilizing ingredients in a “market basket” provided to each team. The teams had an hour and a half to develop the menu and then several hours to prepare and serve the dishes. A panel of six professional chefs were assembled to be judges at the event. 

For Skidmore’s team and other members of the Skidmore community, the win held a deeper meaning: Skidmore’s executive chef of 18 years, Jim Rose, is retiring this year.  

“Chef Rose is one of the driving forces behind organizing this event and in helping us train for it, so we’re really glad to have this win in his honor,” Miller said.  

Executive Chef Jim Rose walks into the Atrium, smiling with his arms outstretched.

After 18 years of steadfast dedication to the College, Executive Chef Jim Rose will retire later this year.

Skidmore’s team this year was a mix of old and new faces; Michael Hinrichs, who was hired as production manager by the College last year and who will be taking over Rose’s position, served as team leader. Other Skidmore team members were cooks Matt Palmer, Pat Ives, and Chris McGilpin. All have represented the College at similar competitions in the past, but this was their first time competing together. 

“It’s fun to be able to show off your skills at an event like this with so many other talented chefs. It's always a good learning experience. It's nice to have this opportunity to make something a bit more elevated, to really show off what we can do,” commented Ives. 

A key portion of the judges’ criteria, along with the originality, taste, and presentation of the food, was the ability of each team to work together seamlessly. Luckily for Hinrichs, Palmer, Ives, and McGilpin, this community-minded approach came naturally. 

“We’re used to working together, but the competition provides us with a special opportunity to get to know each other as individuals by working in a different setting. It helps us grow as a team,” said Hinrichs, who kicked off the three-day event by demonstrating his ice-carving talents. 

Production Manager Michael Hinrichs, who joined Skidmore in 2023, plates the team's appetizer, pan roasted bronzini.

Production Manager Michael Hinrichs, who joined Skidmore in 2023, plates the team's appetizer, Pan-roasted Bronzini.

With many more competitions on the horizon and plenty of other creative opportunities for Skidmore’s talented chefs to flex their skills, it’s clear that the future of Dining Services will be in good hands. 

“Working at the College, I've seen a lot of changes over the years, but the value we place on community at Skidmore stays consistent. It's a good place to work — I’ve felt that way since I started 18 years ago. When I came to the College I thought, ‘Wow, you really are appreciated,’” reflected Chef Rose. “Such a big part of working together successfully is having a good leader. I think Michael has done an exceptional job with that. And these competitions are not easy, but I've got a great staff. I'm fortunate that we have a lot of talent behind the scenes.” 

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